It’s Christmas. The air is getting nippy, your summer clothes are smiling sympathetically at you from the back of your wardrobe, and you can feel the warm, cosy pull of knitwear. I’m talking about the kind of knitwear that borderline offends the eyes of unsuspecting onlookers and makes the elderly lament the invention of knitting needles. I’m talking about pom poms and unnecessary tinsel and garish ornamentation. I’m talking about… the Christmas jumper.
“The definition of an “ugly Christmas sweater” is any sweater with a Christmas theme that is considered in bad taste, tacky, or gaudy. While what is in bad taste is debatable, general consensus says that more is uglier, more embellishments, more tinsel, and more Christmas themed decorations attached to the sweater.”- Mary Bellis
While very much a modern fascination (with 2013 heralding the boom of “ugly Christmas jumper parties”), it is important to get to know the origins of such an enigmatic garment. What started the trend? Where did this distinguished artefact originate?
Christmas themed knitting patterns were introduced into the mainstream market in both America and Europe in the 1950s, with popular print features such as pines and snowflakes. This was around the time that Christmas was starting to become commercialised in the Western World, and so the trend began to rise. Further down the line, popular TV show hosts in 1980s Britain began to don the festive garments during the holiday seasons, alongside American Bill Cosby in the hit TV sitcom, “The Cosby Show”, whose were exclusively designed by the NYC designer, Koos Van Der Akker. These particular jumpers, though not always Christmas-themed, epitomised the modern ideals of ‘hipster un-cool’ and ‘ironic fashion’, with their tacky prints and clashing colours; thus was born the ‘ugly’. The early 2000s brought along the introduction of Ugly Christmas Jumper Parties, supposedly starting out in Vancouver, Canada, the continuation of which has chugged along steadily ever since to its peak in current popular culture.
For a fun, vintage look this season, you could pair your chunky, Christmas knitwear with a sexy pencil skirt and Mary Jane heels to pump up the glamour. For the men, chinos of any colour variety (you may want to clash with your knitwear for extra ironic appeal) and a solid pair of brogues is just as stylish for all you hipster dreamers. Christmas jewellery is, naturally, mandatory, so don’t forget your snowflake/reindeer/Christmas tree/star earrings, cufflinks and brooches!
Can’t find a jumper ugly or Christmassy enough to suit your high-class tastes? Why not make your own glorious Christmas jumper?! Get out your sewing box and just keep stitching on every hideous artefact you get your hands on until the jumper reaches its desired level of ‘OH GOD MY EYES’. Popular design enhancements can include, but are not limited to, battery-operated lights, glitter, sequins, pom poms, tinsel, pine cones, angel tree-toppers, baubles, candy canes, actual snow; the list is endless. No doubt there are many 3D Santa and reindeer socks that need a good rehousing onto the front of your torso.
And so it turns out that Mariah Carey was, in fact, horribly wrong. All I want for Christmas is an ugly Christmas jumper! Happy Holidays.
We’ll be back soon with more pre-loved inspiration and humbling stories! Alex and Sam x